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decor8 Reader Question: Curtain Help Anyone?

August 7, 2007

A question arrived from decor8 reader Jonis, she needs window treatments in her new home. Her walls are painted Lancaster Whitewash by Benjamin Moore and the furniture is chocolate brown velvet. This is a snapshot of her formal living room, and because it’s formal she’s perfectly fine with dressing up the windows a bit and investing in fabric and quality rods.

decor8 Reader Question: Curtain Help Anyone?
Jonis is considering a double rod with sheers in the back (for light) and panels in the front, but isn’t sure as to what color or neutral would work well with the walls and furniture. She wonders about a raw silk in cream with brown threads that she came across, but is concerned that it may be too dull. (My thought immediately: When in doubt, do without!). Can anyone help Jonis? Here are some things to consider before posting your ideas:

-Jonis mentioned that Roman shades are not an option because there isn’t enough depth to the windows to mount them on the inside of the molding. I have a thought on this below…

– She’s happy to find fabric and have them made, but would love suggestions on style if you can think of something. Or a textile that you suggest.

-Repainting the walls is not an option.

– Not into pattern or a lot of color. She wants to keep things somewhat neutral and not too trendy. She’d like to introduce color mostly through art and pillows.

Jonis promises to send in After photos, so see what you can come up with, decor8 readers! I’ll chime in my $.02 below. I see a few options here. These are my thoughts:

First Jonis, if you aren’t into pattern or bold color, think about introducing texture to the room because that will warm things up and make the space look finished (now it’s a bit lonely in there!). Consider adding some pattern in small doses, perhaps neutral-toned panels with a patterned trim (something geometric like a greek key motif). Trim introduces a little action to the room without overpowering it. You can then add a bamboo blind peeking through for privacy at night so you don’t have to worry about opening and closing the curtains constantly. The wood would look nicely with your furniture and bring in texture. You can find great blinds at Target for a low price and you’re in luck because they can be installed outside of the window frame (drapes hide that anyway) so you don’t need them to be sized to fit.

You can also opt for drapes with patterned or solid trims (where you will introduce a color) along the bottom instead of the sides. To give you a quick visual, refer to the image below of Ann Brashares and Jacob Collins?s NYC bedroom for example. And notice how the rods are installed as close to the ceiling as possible, perfectly okay to do and adds height to the room. You have gorgeous crown molding so I’d install them just below that (if your drapes do not have a ruffle) and on the window frame if there is a ruffle.

decor8 Reader Question: Curtain Help Anyone?

Notice that the rod selected above is the same color as the molding, another great idea to pick up as it blends in with everyone else perfectly. If it were black or wood the result wouldn’t be as calming and subtle. If you want to add some pattern to the room, look for cream rods with a pretty finial, an acorn, artichoke, or pineapple (for instance) also in cream. That way, there’s a little texture being introduced. And trim on the bottom is subtle despite being red, which is repeated on the bed. I’d shy away from roller shades, cornices, lambrequins, valances, swags, and scarves. Pinch pleats would look nice. If you stick with a solid neutral and no trim, opt for making the curtain itself more decorative, try smocked or smocked with a ruffle (keep in mind that the ruffle will sit above the rod so the rod will need to come down a little. I suggest two equal panels with trim either on the sides or the bottom though with

(image from Jonis and NYTimes)


  • Reply duh August 7, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    oooh such a dilemma, just choose something that you like, since the rest of the room is neutral, duh!

  • Reply Meg August 7, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    long floor to ceiling sheers flanked by straight panels on the sides. that will help make the room feel taller too.

    although she’s not asking about it, i’d still like to suggest putting a chair in each of the corners, on either side of the fireplace, with the couch facing the fireplace. i think that would create a cozier environment :)

    goodluck! can’t wait for the afters!!

  • Reply decor8 August 7, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    She’s not buying a pillow, she’s ready to invest a good deal of money on window treatments, it’s wise to ask for advice when you aren’t sure what it is that you even like in the first place. Not everyone knows what they like until they are presented with options. If you are reading this blog, you must be here to find new things, to stay informed, so you must understand this.

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    I’d also suggest some sort of woven shade (many materials now available such as bamboo, etc.) and then a subtle pattern on top. I’d really suggest using something for inspiration such as a beautiful fabric with the colors she already has and introduce some that pop with her things, maybe a deep burgundy or red and other warm colors to complement the brown and scream shades. From there she could find a fabric that coordinates well with that fabric and that is simmpler in scope. I’d suggest something with taupes and browns and hints of whatever color she chooses for pop in either a subtle stripe, woven or like decor8 suggested in a great trim. This trim could be a casual flat one or one with more pizzaz. Then mount them on dark wood rods with very simple finials if have some color in fabric and mount the pinch-pleated panels on the far left and far right sides, respectively, on pretty matching rings.

    Good luck!!!!!

    Maureen in ATL

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    I agree with adding some texture. I bought some beautiful silk taffeta drapes from http://www.drapestyle.com. They have a ton of color selections, and you can get them with a border. They also make them in silk dupioni or linen. I am thrilled with the quality, and they are lined and have been great for keeping in the heat in the winter. I also have some beautiful drapes I purchased from the silk trading co. They are ivory wool with an ivory silk border on the bottom. I could see either of these options working in this room. With the taffeta ones, we painted the wooden rod and finials the same color as the wall so it didn’t draw attention. I saw it in a domino feature and loved the idea.

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    What a lovely, sunny room.

    My initial reaction was to perhaps find a silk similar to the wall with a pintuck pattern…so some texture but neutral. I had curtains made a few years ago and had them interlined with felt. It makes a huge difference – they are wonderful and have a ballgown quality. It adds to the cost but I think is well worth it.

    Off the rack, so to speak, Silk Trading Co. has some nice options.

    I too like the idea of bamboo shades peaking out and agree with a curtain rod to match the trim. Black iron would definitely be jarring.

    Looking forward to the after pics!

  • Reply Anonymous August 7, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    It also looks like the windows on either side of the fireplace have another issue – that I’ve run into in the past…they windows don’t have a lot of space since they are so close to the walls. If they put up rods – then the end is likely to get right into the walls – looking a little cramped. What about custom woods blinds for privacy and a little warmth..could be an outside mount with a crown molding on top to match the woodwork in the room already. Then maybe just a top – cornice type treatment that would add height and also some color.

  • Reply Leslee August 7, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    I see that Jonis likes things very
    symetrical, including the object on
    the fireplace mantel.

    My previous house had very much this
    same style, almost identical room color. What I did was to go to
    a large fabric outlet, and in my case
    then, buy a fabric that was a touch more formal, a silk or rayon blend, and in subtle stripes of deep sage and burnt golden rock, is about the way I would describe it.

    When the drapes were not closed, they only hinted at the striping.

    To make it a bit tongue and cheek,
    I made curtain rods which I stained dark brown and for finials, put pine cones.

    The whole affect was elegant yet not at all Louis XIV.

    And the drapes also puddled on the floor, a style that also gives it
    casual elegance.

    Another direction would be to buy
    bolts of linen or linen and cotton
    combo and do it in the same way.

  • Reply Elizabeth A. Walker August 7, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    I like your idea about adding texture with natural shades. I work with Levolor Window Fashions and wanted to offer some additional suggestions for your review, and to help your readers:

    * If nervous about picking about window treatment fabrics, try ordering or viewing fabrics in person sample fabrics from manufactures before placing your final order. Levolor.com offers an exclusive service that allows consumers to order 10 free fabric swatches to sample a variety of colors, patterns and textures.

    If your reader Jonis, or others, want to try Natural Shades but are unsure how?d they look they can go to http://www.Levolor.com and order a few. They will be delivered in 10 days. (Levolor just updated their Natural product line with new colors and materials. I?d recommend checking it out)

    * Roman shades can be mounted outside of the window. Levolor just launched the first and only cordless Roman product on the market. The line also features a variety of exclusive colors and patterns and customized options such as top down/bottom up. A Roman shade would add to the formality of the room and could really make her windows pop against the neutral wall color.

    For more info or to see color swatches of the new Levolor Roman products, visit http://www.Levolor.com

    I hope this is helpful.


  • Reply Jen August 8, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Texture is definitely a must in the room, but I won’t recommend a specific fabric just because every time I think I want “X”, I go to the store and find a similar colour in fabric “A” and fall into deep like with it.

    Perhaps a dusty blue would be a nice colour to cozy things up in there…maybe colours like “North Star” or “Topsail” (paints from Sherwin-Williams – I had to go look to try and make things clearer as far as colour). It’s still rather neutral but does add colour.

    That said, the bamboo blinds are a wonderful idea as well – they look so terrific and natural textures are always great to have in the home. Good luck Jonis, have fun choosing!

  • Reply posey August 8, 2007 at 1:00 am

    My favorite window treatment is a beautiful rod, preferably wood (painted or stained), and use the rings with clips. With the windows being in the corner and not a lot of room don’t use a finial on the corner side, put a tack or small nail at the end of the rod to keep the rings on. No one will even notice the finial is missing, I did this in my living room and no one has ever noticed, unless I point it out.

    I like the idea of the bamboo shades, great texture. I think a nubby fabric would be great in a neutral color. Dupioni silk has great texture.

    I recommend that you go to a fabric store, preferably one specializing in drapery (if you live near Atlanta,Forsyth’s has tons of choices, they have a website forsythfabrics.com. I was there this weekend for the first time and wish I lived closer than 300 miles! Definitely line them!

  • Reply katiedid August 8, 2007 at 1:26 am

    I think all of the afore mentioned ideas are very good ones, but thought I’d throw another fabric idea into the mix: linen velvet has a luxurious texture, maybe in a brownish putty color. And adding an edge trim would be great. Or a light brown linen with white edge banding set in a couple of inches from the edge. Love either with the bamboo shade idea!

  • Reply muse August 8, 2007 at 1:53 am

    There are lovely linen roman shades (soft) from The Company Store that are simply pole top. A nice tension rod (like Umbra’s Coretto in tarnished bronze) would be all you’d need to fit them inside the windows. They are also incredibly affordable. They come in white, natural and sage green.

    Another suggestion, though not asked for: move the chairs and couch partway onto the rug or consider taking the one closer to the fireplace and putting it in front of the corner, angling it towards the couch. It looks like you’re afraid of the big rug in the center, when rugs are meant to be used! Also consider a couple of end and nesting tables and if you must, a round low coffee table (I think a long rectangular one between the chairs and couch as they now stand would make the room look too sharp and regular).

  • Reply Linda Merrill August 8, 2007 at 2:03 am

    I second one of the Anons, the windows are very close to the side walls, so drapery rods with finials will be tough to pull off. Also, there is little stacking space (how much space the drapes take up when pushed to the sides). For standard windows, you’d have 10-12″ of stacking on each side, so you have to take that into consideration when planning the drapes. Even the smallest finials are 2″. You might be better off using a rod with curved ends so that the drapes will wrap around right to the walls and mount all the way to the side wall.

    Also, if you’re thinking of drapes over a bamboo shade (which needs to be outside mounted due to the lack of depth in your frames) make sure your drapery rod has a 5″ or larger projection, since your shade will need 2″ or 3″.

    You could also do beautiful outside mounted balloon valance or similar (looks like a balloon shade, but is stationary) mounted just below the crown molding and ending a few inches below the top of the window. You could then install a linen sheer panel mounted underneath the valance. The sheer, being much less bulky could be swagged or pushed to the outer sides of each windows (to the left on the left window, to the right on the right window) creating symmetry across the whole wall.

    As for fabric – the silk with brown in it sounds lovely and would make a beautiful decorative valance – you could add a fabulous brown tassel or similar trim. You could do purchased sheers and add a brown velvet trim to the hem for pop, or, use the silk as a bottom trim to pull it together.

    Good luck, hope this help!!

  • Reply Lori August 8, 2007 at 3:44 am

    I’ll be the bourgeois one in the group and say I love Potterybarn’s silk curtains and sheers. They are the perfect weight and come in lots of muted/neutral colors. Ivory, wheat, expresso or polar blue I would recommend. It depends on the color direction that you are going with your pillows or just match the walls or sofas. It will look elegant, not boring. I also have Restoration Hardware silk curtains and find the weight to be too heavy to drape properly (especially when pulled back).

    I wouldn’t push the drapes to the side, I would drape them over, right side going right, left side going left, you won’t need extra space for that.

    I do not like the bamboo shades. I feel like drapes need to take into consideration the view from the exterior of the house and brown bamboo shades look very odd through windows when viewing the house from outside. I think every window you can see from the road outside should be white or lined in white not matter what kind of window treatment you are using.

    I have sheers in my house under curtains and pull back my curtains for light. The sheers provide plenty of privacy.

  • Reply kim August 8, 2007 at 5:50 am

    Love that room. I love cut velvet tone on tone, maybe a warm or neutral mustard in the design against same color of background…it would add the texture; pull out the picture frame color, still blend with the walls but add a touch of color; however can warm the room tremendously and would be a nice contrast to the classic and clean lines otherwise found in the room. Good luck. The space is lovely.

  • Reply Hannah Wilson August 8, 2007 at 8:25 am

    black (or dark brown to match the couches) curtain rod, and royal/deep, slightly greyish blue panels with cream/off white sheers. Dramatic and warm without being flashy or overwhelming. Royal blue is great because no matter how striking it can be.. it almost always looks sophisticated. They don’t call it royal for nothing!

  • Reply Anonymous August 8, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    From Jonis:

    Wow, thank you everyone for all the wonderful suggestions. People were correct that there is very little room on the windows flanking the fireplace — so the outermost corners of those two rods will have to abut the wall corner.

    The room does look overly spare in the photo — we’re actually having three side tables delivered today that will help fill it up. (Two on either side of the sofa, and one between the chairs.) Our kids are constantly rolling around on top of the shag rug in front of the FP, so for the moment we’re not putting a coffee table there.

    And Katiedid – the linen with a contrast inset is exactly what we’ve just installed in the family room!

    Thank you so much for all these inspiring suggestions! Feel free to keep them coming (I’ll keep checking the site), and I promise to send the “after” photo when the curtains are done.

    Decor8 – Thank you again!

  • Reply Bueller August 8, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    I love the woven shade idea. I also think artwork will look great in this room if the curtains are kept sleek and tailored. It will really be a wonderful showcase for some great pieces. I’d love to see a close up of the piece already there. I bet you could pull in some subtle tones, colors, textures from it that will add a lot. The room is beautiful!

  • Reply Mieke August 8, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    I agree a double rod with sheers on the bottom are great… As for the panels, why not invest in some amazing madeline weinrib ikat fabric?

    If you mount the rods hight and make the drapes really long it would add amazing impact to your room…. I love the blue or almond Luce pattern. (I also like the light blue Mu pattern but might be to busy for you!)
    Good Luck!

  • Reply Mieke August 8, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Meeks again, forgot to add the link to Madeline Weinrib’s website.


  • Reply Jana Souza August 8, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I ditto so many others; if you are wanting flare without pattern, go with texture; check out the latest conrad shades; they are the mercedes of wovens; they aren’t cheap, but their look is by far superior; you can see at


    also, smith and noble does some decent knock offs of the look; but doesn’t reach their quality; see


    I think a clean tone on tone jacquard or damask in either silk or a blend would be nice; linen, if tone on tone and thick stock would be great; I think adding some blue to this room (warm slate green blue) would be excellent if those sofas are brown as it appears.

    Good luck, jana

  • Reply patricia August 8, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    great ideas.
    I don’t know where this house is located but one thing to know about silk curatins: They will fade and are heat sensitive. If you get alot of sun you will want to have your windows treated with some UV protection. I’m sorry I don’t know what this process is called but any good window treatment store will know what I’m talking about. Like silktrading company. It sounds like you are investing some money in your window treatments so you want to make sure that they last until you are tired of them.
    can’t wait to see the after pics.

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